Hangout Places Project

This project was based on a 2015 public space design competition, which was made available to students of landscape architecture in Australia and New Zealand. The competition provided an opportunity for investigations to be carried out into the experiences, values, and the importance of hangout places in public settings.

Following successful and enriching partnerships with Indigenous communities as part of previous design studio teaching and research activities we (Scott Heyes and Andrew Saniga) developed a brief for our current landscape architecture students from the University of Canberra and the University of Melbourne to explore the notion of hangouts, inclusive of Indigenous perspectives. With support from the Local Eden Aboriginal Land Council from the South Coast region of New South Wales (NSW) and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, we formulated a design brief that involved students spending five days camping at an Aboriginal site of significance known as the Haycock Point Culture Camp.

Located at the northern end of the NSW Ben Boyd National Park, the Culture Camp site is a space that has been, for some time, purposefully set aside for the local Aboriginal community to share, celebrate and transmit their knowledge. Consisting of a set of separate family camping sites, each connected to a central meeting place, the campground is located within walking distance of bush foods as well as fishing and diving spots that have been important to the local Aboriginal people for generations. And while the Culture Camp serves as a modern-day hangout, where Aboriginal families typically travel to on weekends and holiday periods, the archaeological record and oral accounts indicated that the site has been occupied for thousands of years. Indeed, the site represents an old hangout location.

Through the act of “hanging out” at the Culture Camp with our students, and by learning about the use and history of the site through the insights of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal knowledge holders, we explore in this paper how the knowledge gained through the experience helped to inform and inspire design thinking about hangout places in both regional and urban contexts. This paper features design concepts developed by students, along with critical reflections on how the fishing, sketching, bushwalking, storytelling, and other camp activities imbued their design approaches with meaning.

Read a publication on this project

Student Concept Designs

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Glow Way by Wenbin Wu, 2015